New Iraq strategy: more troops or not?

December 21, 2006

New Secretary of State Robert Gates has met with US commanders in Iraq and found them cautious of a proposal to infuse Iraq with more troops. The commanders don’t want a boost in troop levels without a clear mandate for those troops. The commanders clearly understand that another 20 000 troops will not rectify the situation without a clear strategy.

President Bush has echoed the sentiment, saying he is open to a troops increase with a clear mission.

It’s yet another confirmation that the US is looking to exit from Iraq in the next 10-14 months. The idea of increasing US troops to train Iraqi forces is gaining more and more popularity, with US troops incapable of stabilizing the civil uprisings in the US-supported democracy.

A new strategy in Iraq will be announced by President Bush in January; it remains to be seen whether the US President will go along with suggestions from the Iraq Study Group, which he commissioned. A temporary troops increase can be expected, with the longer-term goal of exiting Iraq. The most salient question is whether the US will deal with Iran or Syria directly.

With the US asking that a resolution on Iran be passed at the UN Security Council before the weekend, Iran may not be approached directly. However, the US may opt to talk to Syria, leaving it to Syria to directly engage with Iran.

Iran may also chose to make its own move, before the US announces its strategy: President Ahmadinejad has already met with his Iraqi counterpart, discussing how Iran could help stabilize the new democracy. With recent municipal elections leaning toward moderates like Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad needs to adjust his policies, if he wishes to serve a second term. One way would be to cooperate with Iraq and remain open to talks with US.

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38 Responses to “New Iraq strategy: more troops or not?”


  1. The Bush administration isn’t really looking for a way to win or a way to leave. They like this war just fine.


  2. Cassie, do you really think so?

    I don’t think the administration sees that anything is completely ‘fine’ about the war. They do want to leave and win, so the idea now is to leave under the right circumstances.

    Circumstances, when the US can say, we did the right thing, Iraq is better off. We win, everybody wins. Which is why having a civil war or naming what’s going on a civil war is not something the administration will do.

  3. J Says:

    It looks to me like the administration is looking for a strategy that justifies increasing troop strength. The way Bush words it makes it clear to me. He says something to the effect of “yes we’re open to more troops if there is a clear, doable mission”. So they’ll create a “mission” that calls for more soldiers. I’m not sure what he’s up to but I have my suspicions. I have no doubt that more American military are headed to Iraq.

    I don’t see them groping for an exit strategy either. All the blather about the generations of damage the US will incur if we “retreat” seems strange rhetoric if we’re going to be pulling the plug anytime soon. Plus Bush is suddenly beating the drum for a larger Army and Marine Corp. Unfortunately we my be much nearer the beginning than the end of this “war”.

    I think it’s likely we’ll try and goad Iran into attacking, probably a ship in the Gulf, and then use that as an excuse to wreak more havoc in the region. I think an excuse to decimate Iran’s military is on the neocon wish list, hence the planned naval buildup in the Persian Gulf.


  4. J,

    I don’t think anyone is ready to admit that there will be an exit. But the UK will leaving soon enough; another think tank yesterday published a report saying British participation, and Blair’s comportment, was a disaster. And we all know that Blais is on his way out as head of Labour anyways. Iraq is one of the reasons.

    Only thing I’m not sure of is the Iran situation and the ship, because you do make a good point about it. And there is a neocon idea out there about Iran.

    But Iraq seems over, but no one is willing to say it. Though I could be wrong…only speculating. I guess we’ll see.

    Dmitri

  5. J Says:

    I have no idea of course, but nothing is so dangerous as that which is wounded and Bush is wounded. He may believe his only chance to save face, and to try and keep his party in contest for power, is to ratchet up the conflict, no matter how ill-advised. A war with Iran would instantly drop the Iraq debacle off the radar. I have complete confidence in Bush to make the dumbest decision possible. That we’re in no shape, militarily, to tangle with Iran may not even figure in his calculus. All he cares about is short-term political advantage. I suspect it’s all he’s capable of understanding.

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